#27 Michigan (6-2) vs #71
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||9 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan -10 (KenPom)|
PBP: Jason Benetti
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: Oddly enough, our file photo of Shaka Smart from his VCU days features him sporting an orange tie. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
John Beilein and the Wolverines are quite familiar with Shaka Smart and his Texas squad's style of play, most notably the aggressive "Havoc" press Smart made famous at VCU. Michigan, of course, picked apart that press in their tournament blowout of VCU on the way to the 2013 Final Four; they also had a relatively comfortable six-point victory over last year's Longhorns squad in the Bahamas.
To help break the press, expect to see a lot more of freshman point guard Xavier Simpson than the spot minutes he's played so far this season:
"It won't be a 'OK, we've got to play him against Texas because he has to get used to this stuff,' but it's more about (Texas' defense) and as much as they (press), it'll wear Derrick out," Beilein said. "The other day against Kennesaw State, he got wore out a little bit and it impacted his offense. He sat down for a little bit and came back more fresh.
"We're going to need (Simpson) to help Derrick. Not just to beat their press or attack their defense but to also give (Walton) a rest."
Simpson has shown the ability to be a defensive pest; his offense is still coming along, and he'll need to be careful with the ball against a team hoping to jump-start their lagging offense with easy buckets off turnovers.
In the bigger picture, Michigan could really use a home win against a power conference team after squandering a golden opportunity last week against Virginia Tech. Their only other chance at adding a signature non-conference win to the two victories in NYC is Saturday's game at UCLA, which is fresh off an upset at Kentucky; this game looks far more tractable.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||12||Kerwin Roach||So.||6'4, 175||58||27||99||Yeah|
|Slasher at his best getting to hoop/line. Not much of a shooter. Turnover prone.|
|G||1||Andrew Jones||Fr.||6'4, 190||53||25||103||Yeah|
|Walton-like defensive rebounder. Another turnover-prone slasher/meh shooter.|
|G/F||0||Tevin Mack||So.||6'7, 220||60||23||112||No|
|Shooting very well after a rough FR year. Not much other statistical impact.|
|F||31||Jarrett Allen||Fr.||6'11, 235||70||23||98||Very|
|Good shot-blocker and offensive rebounder, decent finisher. Only 52% on FTs.|
|F||32||Shaquille Cleare||Sr.||6'8, 275||47||20||90||Very|
|Burly, good not great rebounder on both ends. Career 55% on 2P.|
|G||10||Eric Davis||So.||6'3, 195||67||20||87||Kinda?|
|38% 3P shooter last year mired in a 6-for-37 slump. Just A Shooter™, so lost starting role.|
|G||5||Kendal Yacey||Sr.||6'3, 210||57||16||109||No|
|Low-usage defensive specialist. Decent shooter.|
|C||4||James Banks||Fr.||6'10, 240||39||10||95||Very|
|Minuscule usage, good rebound and block rates, only 6/14 from the field.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Jordan Anthony: all but wrapped up?
The Big Weekend is upon us
Michigan's enormous visit weekend is in a few days. Folks who say they will be on campus:
- 5* CA RB Najee Harris. You may have heard of him.
- 5* MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones. You may have seen him leap over a yeti to dunk a basketball. DPJ took a visit to FSU last weekend and came back with the same carefully positive take he's had throughout the process. While Michigan seems to have a strong lead he is the kind of guy who could shock the proverbial world because he's very reserved.
- 5* CA CB Darnay Holmes. Holmes had to cancel an official earlier this year so he could get some test scores. With those in hand he'll be on campus. Nobody really expects much since he's got a strong family connection with UCLA, but at least Michigan will get its at-bat.
- 4.5* NJ LB Drew Singleton. Singleton took a visit to MSU that nobody thinks will amount to much; Clemson chatter has faded.
- 4.5* MI CB Ambry Thomas. Scattered reports that Thomas was at MSU last weekend. This is kind of like the Lavert Hill recruitment where Michigan people are very confident and MSU folks are alternately either the same or saying there's a chance. There's even a brief flurry of PSU optimism. It should end the same way. Sam's gut is rumbling. With Thomas enrolling early a decision won't take much longer.
- Maybe 4* FL LB Jordan Anthony. Anthony—who just got a fifth star from Rivals—is planning to announce sometime in December. Lorenz reports that he did not make a scheduled official to Oklahoma. Maryland is expecting him this weekend; Wiltfong reports that Anthony "may" visit Michigan this weekend and would "like to" visit Maryland. This is the last visit weekend before the dead period and Anthony wants to announce this month. If he is in Ann Arbor it's a wrap. It's pretty much a wrap even if he does visit Maryland.
- 4* PA S Paris Ford. Ford is a new name on the board; he committed to Pitt in October but claims a bunch of big offers and is a top 100 kid on the composite. This is the first recruiting activity he's undertaken since his Pitt commit, so unknown how soft he is.
- 3.5* MI DE Deron Irving-Bey. Irving-Bey is coming off a trip to Maryland and is using his last official before his announcement on Michigan. MSU people still think they have a shot, and they may; Michigan people are confident.
- Various commits: MA RB AJ Dillon, NM RB O'Maury Samuels, OH DT James Hudson, MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell—who will gently prod Thomas, MI OL JaRaymond Hall, and probably some more guys I'm forgetting.
As far as uncommitted recruits go this is just about everyone high on the board who has not already taken their official visit. 4* IA WR Oliver Martin, who apparently came in for an unofficial in October, and 4.5* FL OL Tedarrell Slaton, about whom more in a second, are the only players we have in "top group" or "leader" on the recruiting board who have available officials they are not using this weekend.
December is going to be emoji fire lit did I do that right
Here's a list of players who have set definite commitment dates; will be a busy December and early January:
- 12/9: 4* CA OL Aaron Banks. Banks is a mystery.
- 12/16: 4* CT WR Tarik Black. Black is not, despite a recent 'Bama flurry.
- 12/18: 4* FL OL Cesar Ruiz. Don't know who else is even really in on Ruiz.
- 12/25: 5* NY OL Isaiah Wilson, who is going to greatly please one fanbase and displease the other given that date. A 247 UGA mod just put in a crystal ball for Michigan after hearing that Georgia's a distant third behind M and Alabama.
- 1/7: 4.5* TX OL Chuck Filiaga, MI DE Deron Irving-Bey. Army game announcements.
Early-enrolling recruits with no set date who have to go off the board by the first week of January: Ambry Thomas, DPJ, and Najee Harris. As mentioned above, Jordan Anthony also wants to get it done.
Rivals re-rank uncommonly relevant
Rivals went through their rankings and a number of Michigan prospects saw their stock change quite a bit. GA DT Aubrey Solomon and FL LB Jordan Anthony(!) added a fifth star. Anthony's a bit of a surprise. Rivals was already higher on him than any other service—the other three generally have him around #200, and they had him 70th. Now he's all the way up to 26th.
FL OL Cesar Ruiz also moved up 41 spots to 77th; GA WR Nico Collins dropped from 23rd to 59th, which is more in line with where everyone else has him. Other Michigan prospects were static or close to it.
My other brother Tedarrell
Yes, I've used that joke before.
We've been relatively down on Michigan's chances with FL OL Tedarrell Slaton based first on various vibe things and then a cancelled official visit. While it would still be a mild surprise to see him end up in Ann Arbor, Scout's Corey Bender has an article that makes things seem a bit brighter:
"I talk to Michigan every day," Slaton said. "We're just in the communication part right now. They're looking forward to me getting the scores and up for a visit as fast as they can.
"I like the coaching staff, and I've built a good relationship with all of their coaches."
Slaton hasn't taken any official visits and won't until he gets his ACT score back. That will be an inflection point for Michigan's pursuit of him: either they ramp it back up to previous levels or there's a parting of the ways. Slaton is 100% a guard, and there's definitely room for an Onwenu in this class—virtually everyone they're pursuing other than Ruiz is a tackle.
Solomon tea leaves
GA DT Aubrey Solomon took an official to Alabama last weekend. One of the 247 Georgia guys interviewed him and has separate posts about the Georgia and Michigan sections of that; the Michigan one doesn't have many quotes but here's a transcript of one section:
They showed my mom the reason why I did commit there, you know. I *did* know what I was talking about—that's what my mom said.
He seems sold on the Michigan degree, especially in comparison to a Q from the Georgia side of things about what'll take for Solomon to spend his last official on the Bulldogs:
"They have to show me the academic part really hard," Solomon said. "I know they have a good sports management program. I have been there a lot. They talk about football, football, football, but I want to know about the grades. What am I going to get in return?"
If this was a kid from Kentucky, done deal, Michigan. The hometown pull is still pretty powerful, though, and M will have to weather some storms if they're going to pull this one out. From watching the two interviews it seemed pretty clear which one had the edge with Solomon as of early December: Michigan.
Meanwhile the Alabama side of things:
"A lot of stuff they had, Michigan had," he said. "I'm not saying it was the same, but they had some sort of it. So that really hit me hard being closer with that. It really took effect on me."
So where does the Crimson Tide stand coming out of the visit?
"I really couldn't tell you that right now," Solomon said. "I'm not saying it's a tie, because I don't believe in ties, but Alabama really impressed me and my mom."
No video there, unfortunately. Alabama is always a threat.
I'm not too worried about January visits to Oregon(?!) and "maybe" USC; further Georgia visits would be the biggest red flags in the future. I'm not saying he's a lock but the difference in his demeanor when talking about Georgia and Michigan was so notable that even the Georgia 247 board was skeptical he'd end up in Athens.
James Hudson's senior film is all right
Skip the first minute of blindside blocks and witness Willie Henry 2.0:
That's a pretty high level of high school football he's playing and he's tossing people around like they are sacks of grain. Scout recently gave Hudson a fourth star—he's got the full set now. Their reasoning:
His film looked more explosive and athletic than it did a year ago and, as he has continued to grow, he has been evaluated more as an inside guy or an inside-outside guy rather than purely an edge prospect, which is what we ranked him as initially.
He does play a lot of end in high school but that's a DT all the way.
Michigan reportedly offered CO DE Will Rodgers, a teammate of the elder McCaffrey, a grayshirt. Rodgers transferred from Saginaw Arthur Hill a year ago to play for Valor Christian; prior to that he was a 6'4" basketball center. He's barely got a 247 profile; we'll see where this goes.
AL OL Toryque Bateman has fallen by the wayside of late—I didn't even mention him amongst the OL Michigan was pursuing in the recent recruiting overview—but still lists Michigan in his top two along with Louisville. The Cardinals seem like a good bet at the moment.
Status quo with AL WR Nico Collins, who told Steve Wiltfong that Michigan was "different"; Wiltfong feeling good about his CB to Michigan. One complication: unlike a lot of guys on the board, Collins is taking his recruitment through Signing Day. Michigan will have to weather some officials.
Tom Herman gets after TX OL Chuck Filiaga. Texas people seem to think they have a shot; they are not as yet issuing that emoji with the cocked eyebrow.
Jake Butt and Mason Cole
Jake, talk about how it’s your last game coming up and what do you know about Florida State and that matchup?
“Yeah, first on Florida State, we’ve gotten the chance—they play a lot of night games down there in the south to stay out of the heat a little bit, so after some of our noon games I got watch them play Clemson and Ole Miss. Just kind of flipped it on, so, I mean, we haven’t studied them yet. That’ll happen here in the upcoming weeks. We do know they’re a very good team and they’re gonna be hungry for that win. With it being the last game, gotta lay it all out there.”
Mason, what are your thoughts on playing the Seminoles? Being a Florida guy, you’ve been familiar with them a long time.
“Yeah, just really excited to play another Florida team. We beat Florida, we beat UCF, and hopefully we beat Florida State. Just exciting to go down to Florida and play a really good team. Excited to play in front of family and friends. It’s gonna be two great programs going against each other.”
Did you guys get together and watch the selection show today? What was the general [feeling]? Were you disappointed? Were you excited? Can you take us through the emotions from this afternoon?
JB: “This was our first weekend off in a while, so I know most guys were home. We didn’t have a watch party or anything. I’d say it’s mixed emotions because you set out goals at the beginning of the year and obviously one of those was to be in the playoff, but we weren’t and really we can’t blame it on anyone but ourselves. We left our fate in the hands of other teams and we understand that. That being said, we’re excited about this game. It’s a big game, great opportunity for us to compete against a really good team. We’re really excited to play in this game.”
MC: “Yeah, same thing. We had an opportunity at the end of the year to be in that playoff, but they put us in a great bowl with a great opportunity to go play a really good team. We’re just excited for that now.”
[After THE JUMP: how Butt will look back on this year a decade from now and which way Cole’s leaning re: turning pro]
Beilein has drawn up some easy layups for Wagner. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
I'm gonna try something new here with our hoops coverage. The Basketbullets posts have mostly been game column type things; I'm repurposing the name for what I plan to be a weekly or sometimes semi-weekly post with a couple regular staples—picture page play breakdowns and the KenPom Stat of the Week—and any other items of note. This is a work-in-progress; suggestions for regular features to include are more than welcome in the comments.
Kennesaw State Not-A-Recap
I took a rare weekend off, so I wasn't at the 82-55 Kennesaw State blowout on Saturday, and the time I set aside to go over the game today ended up dedicated to the next section instead. Dylan's recap and Five Key Plays should have you covered.
While rote destructions of teams ranked in the 300s on KenPom are to be expected, this one contained some encouraging signs. Moe Wagner scored a career-high 20 points, making all four his his twos and 3-of-4 three-pointers in 25 minutes; he had no turnovers and one foul. DJ Wilson avoided the foul trouble that plagued him against Virginia Tech and posted an efficient 15-11 double-double. Every Michigan player to see ten minutes of action posted an ORating of at least 106 except Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who continued a troubling stretch of poor games with an 0-for-5 performance. Highlights. Full box score.
[Hit THE JUMP for a seemingly unstoppable set, the KenPom Stat of the Week, and more.]
really should have used this for the bowl game post
That is a large spread. Michigan is favored by 6.5 against FSU. S&P+ has Michigan by 11.8 and with a 75% shot at victory. Other lines that are already up: Wisconsin –7.5 against WMU and PSU +7 against USC.
S&P+ lines for other Big Ten games:
- OSU-Clemson: OSU by 4.9.
- Wisconsin-WMU: Wisconsin by 8.
- Iowa-Florida: Iowa(!) by 4.6.
- USC-PSU: USC by 3.4.
- Nebraska-Tennessee: Nebraska by 1.1.
- Utah-Indiana: Utah by 1.9.
- Pitt-NW: Pitt by 5.1
- Washington State-Minnesota: WSU by 0.5.
- Maryland-BC: Maryland by 0.1.
- Michigan State-Dignity: Dignity by 35.
I thought a sure consequence of four Big Ten teams getting pulled up into NY6 bowls would be the rest of the conference getting set on fire, but S&P+—which was 56% against the spread this year—thinks almost everything is a tossup at worst. I did not know that the Big Ten would lose the Citrus (which is LSU-Louisville, yes please) if they got the Orange, but they rather sensibly do.
Good to see that the bowl revamp has added flexibility and created a bunch of good matchups.
Cole also plans to return. As of yesterday:
Center Mason Cole, speaking to reporters Sunday evening, suggested that he will return, though the junior was hesitant to commit to anything.
"Not right now," Cole said of thinking about the NFL. "I'm focused on this next game and getting the win. I'll take a look at everything, but as it stands now, I'm definitely leaning towards coming back."
Chris Wormley volunteered a return for Maurice Hurst as well. Both guys will be critical starters on next year's team should they follow through on those statements. (Hurst had previously said he'd be back.)
So we've got that going for us, part zillion. Per PFF Michigan is the best team left out of the playoff and one of the top four overall:
All four of the teams that will be in this year’s playoff rank in the top five of PFF’s cumulative grades for 2016. Alabama ranks first, Washington second, Ohio State fourth and Clemson fifth.
The No. 3 team in the country? The Michigan Wolverines. ...
In particular, when looking at a team that could match up best with top-seeded Alabama, the Wolverines appear to be one of the best candidates. They rank third in PFF’s run-defense grades, second in pass-rush and 12th in coverage – giving them a defense that could go toe-to-toe with Alabama’s and perhaps put enough pressure on Crimson Tide’s freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts (more on him in a bit) to spark an upset.
They seem to think that Clemson should be favored over OSU, with two bullets talking up Deshaun Watson and talking down OSU's pass protection. We've got that going for us, too.
Peppers stock. Also in PFF things, Jabrill Peppers took a tumble in their latest mock draft:
When targeted in coverage this season, he has yielded receptions on 20 of 26 targets and does not have a single pass defended when he is the primary defender (his lone interception against Ohio State was a case of him being in the right place at the right time off a pass tipped in front). He also lacks the size to consistently take on and shed blocks going forward, as the majority of his impact plays this year have come when he has been unblocked.
PFF has always had him in the 10-15 range right next to Lewis and not a top 5 pick, so this isn't a huge tumble. I'm still confused by those pass completion numbers. Namely where any of them came from. I'm sure Peppers has been targeted more than the two times I remember, but 26? I don't know where that comes from.
On the postseason. I've been saying this for ten years and will say it until they destroy the dream by going to 8 teams: a 6-team playoff is the best one available most of the time. Six teams emphasizes the regular season since there are home games and byes up for grabs; it keeps the field sufficiently constricted so that make-weights are extremely unlikely.
This year, I assume that the committee made some changes to the rankings to give the appearance of deliberative thought when there was none. That makes the six-team playoff deeply weird:
1. Alabama vs 4. Washington / 5. Penn State
2. Clemson vs 3. OSU / 6. Michigan
Clemson jumped OSU, and that did not matter. PSU jumped Michigan, and that did not matter. The former was a meaningless admonishment to win your conference; the latter was a meaningless admonishment to win your conference. If Clemson or Washington did not win their title games I wonder if they would have had the cojones to put PSU in over a team with the same record who beat it 49-10.
Anyway, in a six-team world I bet a dollar the committee finagles it such that there is not an immediate rematch of M/OSU—or leaves a third Big Ten team out entirely.
This is bunk. There is an enormous Bloomberg article on officiating out there that I keep seeing, because it purports to show that there is a class of "protected blue bloods" that get favorable calls. Oddly, it leads with Florida State getting hosed against Clemson—which one is the blue blood?—and then hits their thesis statement:
“This is an incestuous situation,” says Rhett Brymer, a business management professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He spent more than a year parsing almost 39,000 fouls called in games involving NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the 2012-2015 seasons. His research finds “ample evidence of biases among conference officials,” including “conference officials showing partiality towards teams with the highest potential to generate revenue for their conference.”
Refs are partial towards teams "with the highest potential to generate revenue." In other words, good teams. They throw fractionally fewer flags on those teams:
Brymer’s data suggest something more insidious. Across the 3,000-odd regular-season and bowl games he studied, a bit less than half of the fouls called were what he terms “discretionary”—holding, pass interference, unsportsmanlike conduct, and personal fouls like roughing the passer. Refs were on average 10 percent less likely to throw discretionary flags on teams that enjoy both strong playoff prospects and winning traditions. Brymer calls these teams “protected flagships.”
There is a less than insidious explanation: avoiding penalties is a skill. Flagship teams are more likely to have firebreathing truckzillas; Purdue is more likely to have a peasant wielding a pitchfork. In such situations the penalty scales are naturally out of balance; news that Purdue gets 14% fewer "discretionary" calls than OSU fails to move hte needle. That seems about right. This is immediately proposed by the NCAA's national coordinator for officiating and then largely ignored.
About 3/4ths of the way through the thing we get the big reveal:
While earning his Ph.D. at Texas A&M, he came to sympathize with Aggie fans who believed that all close calls favored the University of Texas. “I reached a breaking point,” Brymer says. Weary of fans whining about refs without empirical evidence, he decided to see if he could find any. “At least I’m bringing myself peace,” he says.
Yes, but think of all the bloggers you're forcing to write skeptical items in their link roundup pieces.
Prepare to be asked whether you went to Michigan. The Ringer's Kaite Baker got into Michigan football this year, which was fun until it wasn't.
Harbaugh isn’t for everyone, but to me, he’s like a combustible acquaintance: As long as you never get tooclose, you can sit back and just let the theatrics endlessly entertain you.
But it’s possible I’m getting too close. The past few weeks have been a rougher ride, a mere glimpse into the tumultuousness of a typical college football season. Winning the national championship seems like an impossibility: Just getting the chance to try requires a constantly evolving team of near-children remaining close to perfect over the course of a 12- or 13-game season. (NFL teams, meanwhile, can barely squeak past .500 and still win Super Bowls.) Even in a post-BCS world, the scope and sprawl of FBS football means that it will forever be hostage to subjective decisions by conflicted parties.
Having been kicked in all available places, Baker is probably hooked. Welcome! Here is your pillow to scream into.
Maybe he is Mark Ingram except fast. Thomas Rawls blew up:
He carried 15 times for 106 yards (7.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns as the offense exploded, scoring on eight of 11 possessions. In the first quarter, Rawls found a cutback lane and hurdled into the end zone for an 8-yard score. In the second, he showed his big-play ability by outrunning defenders for a 45-yard touchdown.
On the one hand, Fred Jackson recruited the guy. On the other, he got three carries as a junior and transferred. Mike Cox getting drafted and having a cup of coffee was one thing; Rawls turning into Marshawn Lynch 2.0 is quite another. He's the most successful Michigan NFL running back since at least Tim Biakabutuka and he'll pass the effective but constantly injured Biakabutuka in a year or two if he remains hale.
Etc.: Purdue has apparently hired WKU coach Jeff Brohm, which isn't the worst idea. Here's this Pat Forde article on how Jim Harbaugh fits right in there I forgot to link two weeks ago. ND Nation never stops winning even if the team does. Punt John Punt on the Wilson firing.
“Hi, my name is Jim Harbaugh. Thanks, Mr. Wahl [Ed. A-Orange Bowl communications director]. Uh, sorry I wasn’t able to get on the call earlier. I was on a plane. Thanks for coming back at this time. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer.”
Being at the ‘86 game against FSU in Ann Arbor—I believe that was your senior year—you won by two. I just remember it being probably one of the worst officiated games I ever saw. What do you remember about that ballgame?
“What was the final score? I don’t remember the final score.”
20-18, you won.
“Oh, it was two points? Okay. I just remember how great Deion Sanders was. That was what stood out in my mind. And Coach Bowden, he was really cool. I remember running and scrambling, I scrambled left and went back to the right toward their bench and ended up having—probably ran almost eighty or ninety yards one way to the one side then all the way back to the other side, and I got thrown out of bounds. I just remember him being cool and giving me a smile, a pat on the back, and he said something. But my coach that year, Bo, and Coach Bowden were coaches in the Hula Bowl, so I got to know him a little bit better at that point, too. Those are the two things that stick out most in my mind from that game.”
You would have been in the NFL, but did you watch that ‘91 game?
“Yeah, I remember not seeing the entire game. I do remember watching it. FSU won that one. Back-and-forth, intense game.”
It was 51-31, I think.
We just talked to a few of the players and they were bringing up the Christmas Camp you guys did last year and doing that again this year. Given the fact that you guys were aiming for the playoff spot and came up a little bit short, is there any concern making sure those guys are still motivated and still willing to put in the work here for a few more weeks?
“Um…well, I know I am. I know I’m motivated and ready to put in the work, and looking forward to it.”
[After THE JUMP: Florida State, one last statement on officiating, and great memories of coconuts]